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THOUGHT: Another reason why I enjoy Bluetooth that much
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 03.05.04 - 14:55:53 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 12073x
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Maybe one of the most discussed technologies in the past years is/was Bluetooth and its value. Bluetooth seems to polarize - either you like it or you dislike it and while a lot of people (and even fellow MVPs) doesn't see a value in Bluetooth I continue to like it since my first Bluetooth experiences with an Ericsson R520.
To make it clearer why I enjoy Bluetooth that much here a short retrospection why I bought my first Windows CE device (a Sharp Mobilon HC 4600 H/PC) in 1998. These days I was looking for something smaller than my Notebook, with more stand-by time but also for something which was able to connect me to my E-Mail server. When I found the Mobilon I imported it straight ahead from the U.S. and it was great to use because the U.S. version included a fixed line modem. However, these days I was already working as a product manager in the GSM industry and responsible for value added services which also included mobile data. The Ericsson phone I had these days, the GF 788, was able to communicate with PCs through its pluggable infrared dongle and that was my start into working with Windows CE and GSM. These days you had to tweak the Registry because you wasn't able to use the IrDA port as a modem by default - and the rest is history.

While this "phone <-> IrDA <-> Windows CE" connection worked pretty good, it wasn't that convenient because you aren't able to use it on the move. When I heard about Bluetooth the first time I was amazed right in the first minute because for me, Bluetooth was a kind of IrDA and cable replacement but based on radio which means no line of sight and no cables to carry anymore! :-)

As the years went, today Bluetooth is what IrDA was in the end of 90's, a true widely used standard and I use it more or less every day to connect my Notebook with my Smartphone to use my Smartphone as my wireless modem, to connect my Pocket PC with my 3G UMTS phone to use that phone as wireless modem again but Bluetooth is much more!

Last Christmas I decided to donate my Dad a ISDN card for his PC. He isn't a heavy surfer and therefore DSL doesn't makes sense for him but everything is up to speed and the good old 56 Kbit modem was a little bit too slow! So the decision was to donate a ISDN card. However, when I was in the pick-up process I reconsidered if a card for his PC would be the best choice for two reasons:

  • There is no ISDN cable in the room he has the PC which means I had to pass a cable (on Christmas) thought the house (bad idea).
  • I'm visiting my parents pretty often because in Frankfurt all my friends live.

Therefore I decided to went with a different solution and bought an AVM BlueFRITZ! AP-ISDN which includes a ISDN card which is plugged into the ISDN line but this ISDN card also contains a Bluetooth module. In addition it comes with a Bluetooth USB dongle for the PC and this combination can serve a radius up to 50 meter!

So since Christmas, my father is able to connect his PC with ISDN speed but wireless and if I'm visiting my parents, I can use the same ISDN adapter and line through the built-in Bluetooth of my Notebook! Great! :-)

However, when I was at my parents last weekend I had to copy some (or better said a lot) photos from my Notebook to the PC of my Dad and I thought about the options I had. Either I burn a CD-ROM with my Notebook and copy the photos from the CD-ROM to the PC or there is another option.
Since I'm using Windows XP Service Pack 2 (which is a non-public Beta by now) with my Notebook, I got the PAN option for Bluetooth. Service Pack 2 kicked out the Sony BlueSpace Bluetooth utility (yippee!!!) and now my Bluetooth is completely handled by Windows XP! :-) One feature I've discovered with Service Pack 2 is the availability of PAN (which wasn't provided by Sony's BlueSpace anyway). PAN is the abbreviation for "Personal Area Network" and allows you to create kind of ad-hoc LAN network through Bluetooth as bearer!

After my Notebook scanned the environment if found two available Bluetooth PAN networks: the Bluetooth PC dongle and the Bluetooth ISDN/DSL access point:

Right after I selected the USB connection, the devices asked for pairing and I entered on both machines the same pairing key and I was done! :-) Who says all the time that Bluetooth is so complicated? Search -> Find -> Pair -> Use!

Okay, so I've created a Bluetooth PAN connection but what to do with it? It's pretty simple, you can do - more or less - everything you can also do with a (W-)LAN connection: Internet Connection Sharing, File Sharing, Printer Sharing because for Windows it's just an IP connection!

With this 3 minute configuration/setup I was able to create a network and to copy the photos from my Notebook to my fathers PC. But this PAN provides me even more since I shared the Internet connection with the Desktop PC and used the printer, connected to the Desktop as well!

And the overall setup looked like this, no Wi-Fi card, no Wi-Fi access point, no hub, nothing - just the existing Bluetooth equipment!

Final Conclusion

While Bluetooth serves my cable/IrDA replacement needs pretty good - it's good enough for more! A lot of us use Bluetooth headsets, because it's so convenient and you can even create a cheap Wireless LAN - thanks to Bluetooth. No, for sure Bluetooth can not replace a Wi-Fi based W-LAN (with around 700 Kbit it's too slow) but for the one or the other ad-hoc PAN it's good enough and since more devices includes Bluetooth than Wi-Fi it's a question of time to see more of these PANs around us. Again, it's not a replacement for IEEE 802.11b or g Wi-Fi networks and both technologies has their place and eligibility like Wi-Fi can stand beside UMTS. It's always a question of the scenario and last weekend I just found another useful use!

Cheers ~ Arne


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Posted by Arne Hess on 04.05.04 - 14:38:00

@Thomas O.: We will test it next User Group meeting again and it have to work than! At least on my device (not the MDA II but the i-mate Phone Edition) it works as you know so it should work on your device also.

@Thomas O. &amp; jayson: Regarding &quot;not usable, pairing, etc&quot; - this depends always on how Bluetooth is integrated. In my Windows XP SP2 /AVM BlueFritz example above I've just started the services and while it connected it asked me to enter the pairing keys. It was absolute hassle free and the only time it asked me. On a Compaq iPAQ with Widcomm Bluetooth or even on PCs with Widcomm Bluetooth it works different and I find it not that convenient (which shouldn't be read as I don't enjoy Widcomm's work. They just go another way of how to pair devices).

BTW: Bluetooth is a standard but unfortunately, like with most standards you can interpret the specs different and this happens from time to time. Therefore the Bluetooth SIG should concentrate more and more in interoperability tests.

@SHoTTa35: You are right IR isn't equal to IrDA since the IR SIG also defines different cases for IR usage. However nobody blamed for that but everybody is blaming Bluetooth... Unfortunately... :-( I don't say it's perfect (today) but all I say there are so many great cases out there where Bluetooth makes so much sense that it makes me wonder from time to time that it's still not accepted...

Posted by Arne Hess on 03.05.04 - 17:18:02

I agree with you totally.  I guess we Filipinos share the same enthusioasm over new technology and try to make the most of it too.

I remember very much when BT came in with the old Ericsson phones including the HBH-15 and the Socket BT CF card.

Although I never owned any BT device until late 2002, I was able to test the early devices and found them very promising.

With the newer Windows Mobile 2003 devices, newer phones, and more or less wide variety of BT devices available now, I would say there is a great improvement and I strongly feel that Bluetooth has become very indispensible and may as well be a very good replacement for IR today.

I see Bluetooth as a substitute for the USB cable.  While many are easily mislead by the &quot;wireless communication attributes&quot; of Bluetooth, there are those who fully understand the advantages of Bluetooth and the real hardware it really replaces.

It doesn;t mean that because you can run a network using Bluetooth, it is was meant to be used that way.  Just the same as the idea of using a Pocket PC as an FTP server... while it is possible, the Pocket PC was not particularly designed to run as an FTP server...

I like the idea of having a PAN or Personal Area Network where all my devices are connected using Bluetooth technology.  I like being able to lug around a Bluetooth printer, a Pocket PC, a mobile phone, and a BT hands-free kit and have them all wirelessly connected and functioning without the hassle of a wired setup.

Bluetooth was designed for specific tasks... today it works well for these tasks, and as time passes by, improvments will be made to Bluetooth and more features will be supported by a wider range of vendors, with more profiles, etc., etc., etc.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo

Posted by Thomas O. on 03.05.04 - 19:56:24

Hi Arne, interesting thoughts, BUT:

irda is more usable and it really wors every time you need it (no pairing is needed, and all irda equipped Devices simply work together)

My MDAII e.g. is NOT able to receive through BT, sending is no problem, but that´s it.

Maybe I´m a nerd in this, but via irda I was always able to make it, so BT is cool if it works, e.g. with my headset, but not with other devices (on my mda).

Maybe you can bring light (the blue) to my darkness the next meeting in Munich...



Posted by jayson on 04.05.04 - 02:36:17

Bluetooth is not yet a standard (even if it claims to be one).  There are a lot of instances when bluetooth devices fail to communicate with each other, making the feature useless.  IR is more reliable, therefore indispensable.  Imagine having a bluetooth only device only to find out that it cannot pair with another one...

Posted by jayson on 04.05.04 - 02:41:56

Just to add, (at least as a theory)...  The programmer of the bluetooth driver sould be aware of all the bluetooth devices available in the market.  If not, there might be a chance of a failure in pairing becuase of an unknown device.  This task is imposible because new products are being released everytime.

Posted by SHoTTa35 on 04.05.04 - 03:47:48

BT works just as well as IR. IR on some devices don't work with others believe it or not (NEC 515/525 but that's crippled)

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